John C. McGinley joins cast for final season of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’

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John C. McGinley as Frank OSullivan in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Photo: NBC

John C. McGinley is joining the cast of the beloved show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” for the show’s final season.

Now in its eighth and final season, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” follows Detective Jake Peralta, played by Andy Samberg, and the adventures of Brooklyn’s fictional 99th Precinct led by Captain Ray Holt, played by Andre Blaugher. Known for his iconic role as Dr. Perry Cox on “Scrubs,” McGinley joins the cast as Frank O’Sullivan, who is the Head of the Patrolman’s Union. 

As a fan of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” himself, McGinley was excited to join the cast of the show for its last season.

“It felt like putting on a baseball glove. With the ensemble, it reminded me a lot of Scrubs.’ It’s a very similar tone, the ensemble is watertight,” said McGinley. “‘Scrubs’ had been canceled in its 8th year and got a 9th year on a different network, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ had been canceled in its 7th year and got an extra year on another network. So it reminded me of that arc a bit.”

McGinley describes his character as a combination of Archie Bunker and the Tazmanian Devil who is a “very damaged” Billy Joel fanatic who still lives with his mother. The character is wound very tight, and McGinley was impressed with what direction the writers went with his new character.

“It was just a hanging low fruit for me, I could just devour it. The writers wrote the hell out of the character,” said McGinley. “What TV writers can do, and this is good and interesting, is that writers can write damaged people. Anybody can write the leading man gets the girl and goes riding off into the sunset. But what writers can do with Dr. Cox and now this guy, Frank O’Sullivan, is that they can write damages. This guy has a collection of damages that these writers clearly had in a bucket in the back of the writer’s room that they were waiting to exercise, and they just poured it all into this character.”

Though many actors might be intimidated by joining the cast of a successful show like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in its last season, for McGinley it felt as natural as anything else.

“It was the invitation to come and play in the sandbox with all the other kids that was so lovely. Andy and Andre are so great, and they are who I have most of my [scenes] with. It felt as natural as getting out of bed,” said McGinley. “The only thing that was unnatural was that it was the height of the pandemic back and all the protocols in the morning.”

John C. McGinley as Frank OSullivan in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”Photo: NBC

With COVID-19 protocols in place, McGinley said that it set the day back about two hours to get tested before heading over to start the day in hair and makeup, but it was worth it in order to keep everybody — cast and crew alike — safe while filming. There were several different zones on set for different aspects of the job, including areas to sequester actors while the set was arranged for the next scene. 

However, because of the protocols, the days were broken up a bit differently, allowing the actors to work harder on the scenes they were shooting on a particular day.

“I thought they handled it unbelievably well. The amount of precision was very meticulous, but it sets your day back two hours. If your call time is 6, you’re not in hair and makeup until 8,” said McGinley. “The call sheet and page count for a comedy are usually 11 to 12 pages a day. For ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ the count was around 5 or 6. By default, it couldn’t be the most ambitious day of shooting in the history of the world, but I really appreciated it. When you did get on set, you can sink teeth into it.”

McGinley says that those who tune in for the new season can expect every character to play to their strengths comedically, which he credits the writers for not “re-inventing the wheel” with this final season.

“We did that on the ninth year of ‘Scrubs’ with a whole new cast, which is pretty tricky.  If you have a whole new cast your final year, someone has to break out, like Robin Williams on ‘Mork and Mindy.’ Someone has to break out. We had all these great young actors, but they just didn’t break out,” said McGinley. “The bet you’re hedging is that one of these kids is gonna break out. That was not what the marching orders were on ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’ They have that deep, rich ensemble of 7 or 8 principles and the writers wrote to their strengths. Whatever those characters’ strengths are, what their sweet spot is for making a joke, that’s what the writers went to and it yielded huge dividends on the set.”

The final season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” premieres at 8 p.m. on Aug. 12 on NBC.